Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Not free… so not free

Friday, June 13th, 2008

So what did you get your Mother for Mother’s Day?  Me?  I sent mine some flowers.  Which cost almost $200 US dollars.  Am I that generous with something that will wilt in a week or so?  No.  But the other charges on my credit card bill for unknown ‘services’ cost almost cost that much.  Let me explain.

I made two different orders of roughly $40 for Mother’s Day on ProFlowers.com.  You may notice that I didn’t make that a clickable link.  For good reason.  When we did the checkout, we signed up for a service called EasySaver in order to get $10 or $15 off our next order.  Normally we wouldn’t have done that but we were planning on making two orders so it worked out fine.  We would just cancel the subscription before we were charged and be done with it.

The second orderlisted that it had free shipping.  Bonus! That plus our money off from the first order should make it a good deal.  I’m all about good deals so that made me happy.  So we get the e-mail from EasySaver (notice how I’m not linking these people either?) and we input the code.  It doesn’t work.  We tried the code in many different ways and in different browsers and even on another PC.  Still no work-y.  OK… so that sucks, no money off.  But at least we get the free shipping, right?

Well yes and no.  When we were checking out that last order it seems that you also get signed up for a site called FreeShipping.com (definitely not linking these bastards).  I had no idea what I was signing up for as it seemed like part of the check-out process.  The orders shipped and things were fine even though we didn’t get the money off.  Oh well.

I checked the credit card statement on-line the day after to see if it posted and saw that EasySaver had already billed us for $1.95 for their service.  It seems that they start charging right away unlike what I thought was on the checkout.  So now we didn’t get the money off the next order but we also paid more.  Well, we figure we just read it wrong and decided to cancel it.  Yeah we forgot.  Which is exactly what these companies hope will happen.

So I checked the credit card bill on-line last night and realized that I missed the last statement (dammit) so I go back a month to see why we seem to have an awfully high bill considering we rarely use our credit card.  That’s when I noticed that we had forgotten to cancel EasySaver and they had charged us an additional $14.95 and probably hoped to do so for ever and ever.  OK yeah we screwed up, shame on us.  What shocked me though was a mystery charge on the same date from FreeShipping.com for $72 and no explanation or contact number or anything.  WTF?  I called shenanigans and then called Chase to dispute the probable fraud charge.

The people I talked to at Chase were really nice like they usually are.  They gave me an 800 number that showed up in their records that isn’t publicly available for FreeShipping.com.  I say it’s not publicly available because it’s not on the credit card statement and the only form of contact on their website is a form you can fill out and hope that they contact you back.  No phone number or address or anything else.  It also mentions that they are personal information harvesters.  Nice.
The guy from Chase politely asked the person who answered the phone for FreeShipping.com about their service and how I got charged for $72.  They told him that I signed up voluntarily and had to accept their terms on three occasions during the process.  I told them both that I’d never heard of the website and having to accept anything three times would have definitely thrown up a red flag for me.  However they did have some information on me that would definitely have been something I would have typed.  So I asked the woman on the other end how I could have signed up for this and not realized what was happening.  I asked her if this was setup at all to be misleading.  That’s when the Chase guy stopped talking.

She told me that all the information is available during the process if you read all the terms and conditions.  I asked her if that meant that a person would need to read all the fine print to understand what was going on and she said yes.  I asked her some more questions and she admitted that she’s never actually seen the website that we’re talking about.  I asked her how she could be expected to answer my questions if she doesn’t even know what I’m talking about.  She was not amused.  I asked her why I had gotten an e-mail from EasySaver telling me that I had signed up for something but I received nothing from her company.  She said that they don’t send out e-mails like that.  She mentioned that a reminder e-mail is sent out a day before the trial period ends so you know to cancel if you want to.  When I asked her why I didn’t receive a reminder e-mail she told me that they don’t do that.  Uh….

I asked her (knowingly) why they needed to be so deceptive in not being open about who they were, what they were doing and what they were planning on doing.  I asked her why there is no contact information for this company and not notification that I’ve signed up for something that needs to be cancelled.  She apologized and told me that she would refund the pro-rated amount of the yearly membership costs.  I asked the Chase credit card guy if that was good enough but got no answer.  It seems that he must have dropped off when I started asking pointed questions.  Oh well.

I called ProFlowers.com next and talked to a very nice woman on the line.  I told her that I had a complaint about their partner offers and wanted to speak to someone about it.  She told me that she could help me.  So I told her about the charges.  I told her about the company admitting that their offer was deceptive.  I told her that there is no notification process at any point and that the costs of my orders was almost tripled.  She told me that she couldn’t help me after all.  However she was very nice and took down all my information and said she’d have a supervisor contact me about this.  So far, no e-mails or phone calls.  I’m not holding my breath.  I didn’t ask for anything from them but I do want them to know that I will not be using ProFlowers.com ever again.  Considering we used their service multiple times a year that really won’t be significant to them.  However I guarantee that I’m not the only one who’s gotten screwed on this and I’m not the only lost business they will suffer.

I hope for their sake that it was worth it.

The mobile web

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I just attended a luncheon regarding the rising opportunities in the online mobile phone markets and it was pretty interesting.  I found out the the average youth user in China sends an average of 100 text messages a day.  That’s just sending!  Considering I’d never sent a text message in my life prior to coming to Hong Kong, that just seems inconceivable to me.

However, the focus of the presentation was about the youth market and how it’s affecting and shaping the mobile web.  Basically the premise is that the kids today are deciding and driving the technology and services available on mobile devices and us old folks will just get whatever they decide on.  Lucky us.  The 2 second attention span generation has come to power.

Supposedly, 50 Cent and young Japanese girls have something in common.  They are doing something called Lifecasting.  They basically wear their phones around their necks and let it record constantly throughout their day and it auto transmits these images or video to an online accessible site.  Personally, I’m not sure how I would feel about this but I guess it would keep Fiddy from doing illegal activities since he’d be broadcasting whatever he’s doing to the world.  The japanese girls will probably get flooded with dirty old men though.  But maybe that’s what they’re going for.

It sounds like more and more content on mobile devices will be branded as well.  Just like you can’t have a college bowl game without some companies name and logo plastered all over it.  Just like you can’t play certain video games without seeing billboards in the games advertising everything from soft drinks to cars.  Now your mobile content will also be branded.  Considering the size of the screens, I hope that you can still see what you were looking for with all those logos.

Of course since this meeting I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of making this site and A Little Scary more mobile friendly.  I found this WordPress Mobile Plugin that looks like it makes your site mobile phone compatible and thought I might give it a try.  If anyone out there has any opinions on the matter, please leave them in the comments.

Internet Flakes

Friday, January 11th, 2008

The Internet connection here at the new office is absolute rubbish.  Calling it flakey would be a compliment.  We have to reboot the ISP provided border router roughly twice a day and in the meantime access kind of just dies off for a couple minutes at a time.  I actually wrote a post yesterday and lost it during one of those outages.  I forgot that WordPress eats posts when you hit the Back button after a failed Submit.  Bah.  And I was just too lazy/frustrated to retype it.  It was crap anyway.  No loss.

So I’ll be in the office tomorrow (Saturday) bright and early to meet the ISP tech to try and sort this out.  Wonderful, so much for catching up on my sleep.  I suppose if things get fixed, I could always stop in Wan Chai and try and find the video game mall.  That might cheer me up.  Maybe.

Darkness Within

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Hi all, as you know I’ve been doing more original writing on here lately and it seems I’ll be doing even more as we go along. I have quite a few scenarios written for my Day series that I’ve been writing so be on the lookout for those on no set schedule. However you can expect to see Day Four next week.

But to get to my point, I’ve also agreed to start doing some writing for a virtual alternate universe that is being started at http://www.darknesswithin.net that will feature a few talented people with me tagging along. It’s a themed fiction project in a world of magic and horror and I think it has some serious potential. There’s not much out there yet as we’re just getting started, but the ideas that are being tossed around are pretty cool. I’ve posted my first short entry on the site but I’ve got some other ideas that I’m working on as well.

Anyway, I’m kinda excited about this so please take a moment to check it out. And tune in here next week for Day Four.